Google Sky is a free web application, designed to bring the joy and excitement of space exploration to the average person. The application works in much the same way as Google Earth. It uses Google Maps technology, along with help from astronomers from some of the largest observatories on the planet, to create a virtual guide to the universe.
Users can view real space images from the comfort of their home office, locating planets and constellations. They can even witness the birth of new galaxies, provided by images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Just as with Google Maps, viewers can navigate the maps by scrolling in any direction. Images can also be zoomed in and out for more or less detail.
One great feature of Google Sky, is Google Moon. Images, video and other data collected from satellites and the six Apollo missions, have been collected and organized to create a virtual tour of the moon. The application includes tours of the landing sites, narrated by Apollo astronauts, 360-degree photo panoramas of the moon's surface, along with rare television footage of the Apollo missions. These images can also be navigated, and the photo quality is clear enough to see the astronauts footprints from the first moon landing.
Google Mars is another awesome feature of the Google Sky application. This is a collection of all the images and data collected from the Mars Rover. It used to be that only scientists could view this information. With Google Sky, anyone with internet access has space right at their fingertips. Explore the vast and interesting landscape of our neighboring world. Take a virtual tour across mountains, canyons, plains, ridges, craters and dunes.
Using Google Goggles
The technology that captures the images displayed on Google Sky is much more advanced than the human eye. For one thing, the telescopes and satellites can see much, much farther than the human eye. Another, lesser known benefit of using Google Sky, is that the viewer can see space images in different wavelengths.
Human eye-sight is typically quite good, but we can't see certain wavelengths of light, such as x-rays, ultraviolet, and infrared lights. It is really quite a shame because some of the most vibrant colors in flowers and in space, come from wavelengths that we can't see with the naked eye. Google Sky allows users to see all of the colors in space. The wavelengths can be adjusted and explored to learn which parts of the universe light up with different wavelengths.
Google Sky can also be turned into a virtual classroom. Learn about the different features of the universe with the Earth and Sky Podcasts. The podcasts are quite short, averaging 90 seconds, and go into detail about different aspects and cycles in our solar system, and the universe at large. Topics range from Earth, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and the moons of Earth and other planets. Many of the podcasts focus on what can be seen in the night sky during different parts of the year.